Vanderbilt jumped out to an early 11-0 lead as the Commodores hit 4 of their first 5 shots from the field, while the Golden Griffins missed their first four. The tables quickly turned, however, as three Canisius 3-pointers led to a 13-13 tie with 14:08 left in the first half. But the game would never be close after that. Vanderbilt began to pull away slowly, establishing a double-digit lead for good at the 7:02 mark when a 3-pointer by Ashley McElhiney gave the Commodores a 32-22 lead. Throughout the remainder of the half, the lead inched upward and finally hit 20 points at 53-33 when Jillian Danker hit grabbed an offensive rebound and scored just as the halftime buzzer sounded.
The second half continued in much the same way. Canisius briefly cut the lead to 16 points early in the second half, but throughout the half, Vanderbilt continued to pull further and further away. A layup by Zuzi Klimesova with 9:01 left in the game gave Vandy a 31-point lead. By the time Tia Battle scored Vandy's 100th point of the night on a free throw with 2:52 remaining, no Vandy starters were left in the game. Candice Storey's layup with 46 seconds remaining gave Vandy their biggest lead of the night at 106-64 and also ended scoring for the game.
Shauna Geronzin led all scorers with 30 points, but no other Golden Griffen scored in double figures. She was also led Canisius in rebounds with 6. Earley was leading rebounder for Vanderbilt with 11; Klimesova and Anderson had 7 each. Earley also led Vandy in assists with 6, followed by Jenni Benningfield with 4.
Vanderbilt shot 60.0% from the field for the game, compared to 33.3% for Canisius. The Commodores held a substantial rebounding edge at 45-30. Turnovers were close to equal, with 23 for Canisius and 21 for Vanderbilt.
Vanderbilt (12-2) begins the SEC season Thursday night with a road game in South Carolina. They then return to Memorial Gym for a nationally televised game against #25 Penn State. Saturday's game is also Fan Appreciation Day for women's basketball, and tickets can be bought for only $1. For more information, call the Vanderbilt ticket office at 322-GOLD.
POST GAME COMMENTS
The Press: Coach Foster, did you see more of what you wanted to see today from a defensive standpoint compared to Saturday?
Coach Foster: We're a little bit better defensively. We have to be a better defensive basketball team. There are no two ways about it. Our offense is not an issue. It's not a problem. It wasn't a problem Saturday. It's been a problem in one game, and that's the Connecticut game. But our defense has just got to be of a certain mentality, and today we were a little bit closer to that. By playing more people, the tempo's going to have to be a little bit different, and we're going to have to change things a little differently, and I think we started in that direction today.
The Press: Are you sending any special messages as you start conference play?
Coach Foster: Yeah. You've gotta win on the road.
The Press: Today you were playing more people. Saturday you only played 8. Which will be closer to where you want to be?
Coach Foster: Well, a couple of things. Saturday we got off to a rocky start. We got into a trap and our young players -- and I think Ashley Earley would be an example of that -- I think Ashley had some opportunities, but she rushed them. And then Abi and she was in a rush. Juli was in a rush. And we made a decision to go with fewer numbers. But we have to work through that. We have to understand that you can't be in a rush when you get into a game. You've just gotta get yourself into the flow of the game and not be in a hurry to do things, let the game come to you. And I think a couple of our kids did a much better job today. Juli Coli the first time was in a rush, and the second time she went out there, she was very good. Ashley Earley I think did a great job in the first half on the glass and made some better decisions, but she had five turnovers, which is something she's got to improve on.
The Press: When you get into SEC play, what do expect to see?
Coach Foster: That's a good question. And it depends on the players. We'll play the players we think can help us. . . . . It's nice to have no one in that 30 minute mode today. It's nice to be able to have McElhiney out there for 25 minutes because we got quality minutes from another point guard. It's good that Chantelle gets 25 minutes and Zuzi gets 24. We don't need them playing 40 minutes. We don't want them playing 40 minutes.
The Press: Can you talk about the decision to start Ashley Earley?
Coach Foster: Well, Jenni Benningfield had to play last year out of position since she's gotten here. She's a post player, and it's where she's most effective. It's where she's the most effective for us as a team. Ashley Earley, on the other hand, is a perimeter player who now is starting to understand how she can score, how she can contribute to this basketball team. So Jenni goes back to where she's comfortable, and now our rotation there is better. It's deeper and frees up some perimeter time for some other players. And we had a lot of people come in today and do some good things. Abi Ramsey again is a player that everyone thinks of as a shooter. But she's a very gifted passer. She's probably as good a feeder to the post as anybody we have, and she's a better defensive player than people realize. So we'll get her on the floor a little bit more. It gives Tia Battle a look, it gives Katie Smith a look, and I think those things are good for us.
We did this to make ourselves a better basketball team. We didn't do this because of Jenni's playing, I mean, Jenni only leads the SEC in 3-point shooting. But Ashley -- Ashley Earley -- gives us another dimension. She can put the ball on the floor and obviously her rebounding, and we're a little bit better running. We threw the ball ahead more today, which is good for us. So I don't see any negatives. Jenni still gets quality minutes and becomes a conveyor of the basketball. I think you see a four assist/two turnover ratio. By playing in the post, Jenni gets more opportunities to become a conveyor of the ball. When you have frontcourt players who can pass, then you have a real good team.
The Press: Ashley, what was it like hearing your name? I noticed that you forgot to give Zuz the jump . . .
Ashley Earley: Oh yeah, I was so excited just running out there. I won't forget it, though.
The Press: What's it like starting?
Ashley: It was great. As a high school player, that's kind of your dream to come to the next level and have an opportunity to start.
The Press: What's it like to have a double double in your first start?
Ashley: That was great, too. I was trying to come out focused. I wasn't trying to be nervous -- just come out and play my game.
The Press: When did you find out you were starting?
Ashley: I don't know. I just kinda got the hint in practices. I wasn't really ever told.
The Press: Coach, when did you know?
Coach Foster: On the plane ride. [out or back?] Back.
The Press: Was there something that you had seen prior to the plane ride that helped you make that decision?
Coach Foster: I did not like the fact that we had players playing 40 minutes. I didn't like that. I don't like the fact that we didn't get out and guard some things we should have guarded. And fresher legs I think will get people there and one of the great motivators in the game of basketball is the bench, and some people are going to start to find it if they don't get where they need to get.
The Press: Chantelle, I know that Ashley has been a kind of protege for you, how was it having her in there?
Chantelle Anderson: It was nice. Anytime you have someone who can go in and get nine rebounds in one half, it's always great. Ashley does a lot of good things, and she goes all out. She doesn't go halfway too often. So it's nice to have someone like that on the floor as intense and as focused as she plays most of the time. We've seen steady improvement. She's figured out where to be. I know Coach Foster was saying in the beginning, well, she's figured where to be.
The Press: When you talk about defensive intensity, what are you looking for?
Coach Foster: A hand in their face when they shoot the ball. We want to contest shots. We didn't contest shots in Lubbock. You need to contest shots. You've gotta get there. People are going to make shots, but I'm much happier looking at a 33% field goal percentage than I would be a 47. From an offensive point of view against Texas Tech, their field goal percentage defense 34%. Well, we shot 49% from the field. We probably missed 11 shots within 3 feet of the basket. But it's another tempo. That's why you play those games. Getting in the environment and realize that you can't be going so fast. We're going too fast. Ashley Earley was going too fast, going too quickly. To me that's what the preseason's about, getting into situations where you -- this team today in the first half, they forced the tempo. They made a decision, and maybe they'd be a good one to answer your question, because early in the year they scored 52 points, 47 points, and 40 in a game. Well, they made a decision that's not going to happen again 'cause they're going to get the ball down. They're going to push it, they're going to shoot it, they're creating the tempo. So therefore now we're playing it. But we don't want to play crazy. We'll take a quick shot if it's a real good high percentage one, but we're going to wait if it's not. It took us a little bit of time to adjust to that.
The Press: So you beat them at their own game?
Coach Foster: I wouldn't say "beat them at their own game". We were willing to tango. [pause . . . to Chantelle] It's a dance.
Chantelle (laughing with mock exasperation): I KNOW.
The Press: Coach, could you have had this kind of game today and still not necessarily improved from Saturday?
Coach Foster: Saturday was about one thing -- it was not getting to the ball. It was not defending. It was not thinking that it was important. We've changed what we're doing defensively , and Chantelle has got to make an adjustment and Zuzi and Jenni and Candice more than anybody. Those four. It's an entirely different concept than we've had before. And it's going to lead somewhere where we'll benefit from it. We're a good rebounding team, and if we start to contest shots a little bit more and make them a little bit more difficult and continue with the rebounding, now we've become a better running team. All those things matter. For us to get 65 shots off and to shoot 32 foul shots. There's a stat in basketball -- one of our goals is to make more foul shots -- to make more foul shots than our opponents shoot. So today we made 25 foul shots. They shot 18. That's something we want to do for the year. It's a goal. Certain things have to happen for that to happen. And defensively, we've just got to make people work hard for their shots. And I think sometimes we've lulled ourselves into being such a good offensive basketball team that we think we can exchange field goals. And even some of the wins we've had, we've gotten out to a lead and then exchanged field goals. Saturday we got slow out of the gate, we didn't have shots dropping, and then we exchanged field goals. And the difference in that game was a 30-minute difference. Once we missed a couple of earlier shots . . . you've got to score and stop. We were scoring and letting them score, scoring and letting them score. From that point of view, today was probably a significant difference -- and probably an ideal opponent because this team was going to quick shoot and do some things that we needed to work against.